Working title: Neither/nor

— Epigraph —

I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.

Soren Kierkegaard (Either/or)

Adventure most unto itself
The soul condemned to be —
Attended by a single Hound
Its own identity.

Emily Dickinson

— End epigraph —

Dramatis Personae

The father
The son
The mother
The son’s friend

Act One

— the father has important news for the mother — the son asks his father about the world — the mother offers her perspective — the father and mother consider the future — 

Scene I

The living room. Modestly decorated. Two doors, one window, one sofa, one table. Books lie on the floor. The son sits at the table. The father paces between the table, the window, and the sofa.

Son: Dad — I don’t get it.

Father (pacing): Get what? … Where is your mother? 

Son (staring intently at his moving hand): How can I just move them? 

Father: Move what? 

Son: The fingers. 

Father (while looking through the window): Your fingers? Did you hurt them?

Son: No, I didn’t. I mean how can I just… move them?

Father: You move them by thinking.

Son (closing his eyes and wincing): No, that’s not it.

Father: Yes, it is it. You think, you move. Ok did she text you? Look at your phone.

Son: No she didn’t text me.

Father: Look at your phone.

Son (picking up his phone off the table): She texted me. 

Father: Jesus. Can you not lie please? If you don’t know something, just say it. Don’t make stuff up. What did she say?

Son: She says she’s stuck at work and will be home late.

Father: Great. Now what — do we warm up food or what?

The father exits through one of the doors.

Son (looking again at his hand, speaking louder): I don’t think to move it. I just move it. 

The Father returns with bread and peanut butter.

Son: If I think to move it, nothing happens. Watch. (He closes his eyes and winces)

Father: Ok, it’s a different kind of thinking. It’s subconscious.

Son: What does that mean?

Father: It means you don’t think about it. 

Son: But you just said I think about it?

Father: Well you don’t. You do and you don’t. I guess it depends what you mean by you. It’s complicated. 

Son: So when I pick up this slice of bread? Do I think about it?

Father: Yes of course you do. You feel hunger in your belly (he rubs the Son’s belly), you think about it in this big melon of yours (he rubs the Son’s melon), and then you decide to use this clammy hand (he grabs his Son’s hand) to pick up this delicious grub your loving father has provided for ya. Om nom nom.

Son (looking at his phone) : She says she’ll be here in a few minutes and that we shouldn’t be eating peanut butter.

Father: Our Queen commands us! We must resist! 

Son (ignoring him): She also says that we should warm up the pasta from last night. I’ll go put that in the microwave. (He exits)

Father: Forgive me my Queen. (He spoons a big dollop of peanut butter into his mouth, leaving a trace on his cheek.)

The Mother is heard entering the house. The Father moves to meet her at the door.

Mother: Hey. (She throws her purse on the couch)

Father: Hey.

Mother (sitting down): I told you not to eat peanut butter.

Father: I did not eat peanut butter!

Mother: I can see it on your face, no sense in lying.

Father: Well, you didn’t tell me, you told our Son. So, call it even on the lying front.

Mother: Did you get it?

Father: It’s a long story. They said I’m a good fit, but I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ll take it even if they offer it to me.

Mother: What? We just talked about this. 

Father: Yeah, well things changed. I just… I just don’t think it’s the right decision.

Mother (laughing): Are you serious?

Father: Yes. Maybe I should just quit this whole field.

Mother: Yes, quit the field. That sounds reasonable. What is wrong with you? 

The son enters with a big bowl of pasta in his hands. He puts the pasta on the table.

Son: Yeah, Dad, what’s wrong with you. 

Father: Nothing is wrong with me. I am an adult. I have to make decisions carefully. I can’t just take this job and then get stuck there working on things I don’t like with people I don’t like.

Mother: Adults make decisions, and they live with the consequences. Don’t be a donkey. If it’s not this it’s that.

Father: What’s wrong with being a donkey? They’re honourable animals.

Mother: I didn’t marry a donkey. 

The Mother and Father freeze. The stage goes dark. Spotlight on the son.

Son (aloud): I can get pasta, but I can’t move my fingers. Why can’t I move them? Move fingers. Move fingers. Move! Move! Why won’t you move! Why can’t I make you move! I decide. I do.

A second spotlight turns on. We see a donkey. 

Son (grabbing a wrist with the opposite hand): Move! Move! Move!

The donkey doesn’t move. Both spotlights turn off.

Scene II

The bed room

Act Two


— twelve years earlier — the mother meets the father — they fall in love — 

Act Three


— the son celebrates his 18th birthday — the mother debates telling the son the truth — the son meets an old friend — the donkey dance